After killing at least 38 people, including at least 23 children and two teachers, at a nursery in northeast Thailand, the gunman killed his wife and child before turning the gun on himself. Police say he had a SIG Sauer P365 pistol and a meat chopper.
The 34-year-old gunman, a former police officer, was sacked from the regional force in 2021 for drug-related reasons. The attack happened around 12:30 pm when Panya Kamrab entered the childcare center in the town of Nongbua Lamphu. Kamrab was expelled from the police force on June 15 this year for possession of methamphetamine.
Footage shared on social media platforms show sleeping mats scattered in a preschool room, its floor smeared with blood, with alphabet pictures and other colourful wall decorations. The videos showed the bodies of children lying in pools of blood. Sounds of distress and wailing of shattered family members can be heard. Family members wept and watched outside the nursery school building. Ambulances stood on standby as police and medical workers made their way into the school yard.
Witnesses told police that the gunman was also seen wielding a knife in the attack in the town of Uthai Sawan, around 500 km northeast of Bangkok in the province of Nong Bua Lamphu. Jidapa Boonsom, a local official, said the shooter came around lunch time and shot four or five officials, including a teacher who was 8-months pregnant, at the childcare centre first.
"At first people thought the shots were fireworks," she said. "It's really shocking. We were really scared and running to hide once we knew it was shooting. So many children got killed, I've never seen anything like it." Jidapa said the gunman forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping.
Paisan Luesomboon, a police spokesperson, told the local Thai media that the gunman had been at a court hearing in connection with a drug case earlier during the day and then went to the daycare center for his child, but the child wasn't there.
"He was already stressed and when he couldn't find his child he became more stressed and started shooting," the spokesperson said. 19 boys, three girls and two adults were killed in the building. The gunman then drove home and killed his wife and child, before taking his own life.